Citi Bike deal could be set by end of summer: sources
A deal to bring Citi Bike into new neighborhoods could be sealed this summer, sources told amNewYork.
A proposal to expand the bike share system has been in negotiations for months and would reportedly include new investment from a firm associated with real estate developer Related Companies. The sources did not provide specifics of the deal.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that the proposal would give the Related-affiliated firm -- REQX Ventures -- a controlling stake in Alta, the company behind New York's bike share operation.
The proposal is expected to be finalized within a week, though it's unclear when the city Department of Transportation would approve the plan, the Journal reported.
"We're committed to making New York City's bike share program more reliable and more accessible to neighborhoods across the city," Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a statement. "Citi Bike has become part of our public transportation system and there is a lot riding on its success. We owe it to New Yorkers and to riders to get this right, and make sure we put the system on solid footing for the long-term."
Citi Bike, now in its second year, had struggles with its software and maintaining a proper balance of bikes and spaces at docks. Outerborough and upper Manhattan lawmakers have been calling for Citi Bike stations -- currently only in Manhattan below Central Park and areas around downtown Brooklyn -- in their districts to give residents another way to get around. Using public money to fund the extension was an option that the de Blasio administration declined to pursue until Citi Bike's operations and finances improved.
The deal reported in the Journal would let Citi Bike double the number of bikes to about 12,000, from the about 6,000 now.
Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said his community identified 10 locations that would be prime spots for pedaling off with a Citi Bike. He cited areas like waterfront parks Gantry Plaza and Hunters Point South, the Vernon Boulevard No. 7 station and near the PS1 art museum. The DOT this week said the agency is in talks with community boards in Astoria.
"What we need to see is connectivity and the best way to have connectivity is to have all of western Queens be a part of this program, connecting Manhattan to the west and Brooklyn to the south," he said. "That's the connectivity that we really need to allow the program and neighborhood to flourish."
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the transportation committee chair, said he plans on holding a hearing by the end of the year on expanding Citi Bike.
"I believe that we have to provide that opportunity for anyone interested on giving input so that we can get feedback on how we make the program better and stronger," he said.